Days 18, 21, and 22

Hey Readers,

My eyes are pretty much better so I’m psyched to write. It’s been like an itch that I can’t scratch…

Sorry about the combo of days here, by the way. With all of the Black Friday sales, I traded out my old computer for a new one that works! Get this: it loads Microsoft Word without a ten-minute pause. It’s crazy… It even has a headphone jack that works and turns on every time you press power.

See what I did there? This is something I’m noticing a lot in the book that I’m reading right now. The author tells me a lot of things without actually saying it, or showing it. Instead, they give an implied comparison to let me figure out the information.

For example, from above you can tell that my old computer didn’t have a working headphone jack, didn’t boot up every time I tried to turn it on, and had a ten-minute wait for Word to load. I never actually said any of this, but used these details in my description of how my new computer is/is not like. The details stand out as well. If I were typically describing a new computer, I might say it’s fast or sleek or has interesting new features. Instead, I said that it turned on… it makes the reader think a little and put together the story.

My challenge for you is to find a comparison in your story. Something that has changed or changes the life of the character in some way. Use this method to describe it and see how it enhances your story, setting the description apart from the flow of how you usually describe things. It will bring variety.

Thanks for reading and don’t stop writing!

XO, Kelli.

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Day 14 and 15

Hey Reader,

Sorry that we are still having trouble with the internet in my neighborhood, but here I am.

Just so you know… I quit this year’s NaNoWriMo about a week ago but I’ve been putting off mentioning it. I’m not giving up on the story or anything. In fact, I’m going to be writing it next month I think. I’ve been having some eye strain problems (can’t focus on words, bad headaches, etc) and my doctor literally said to stay away from screens and limit my reading time. LIMIT MY READING TIME. HOW AM I STILL ALIVE.

Anyway, I’ll still be on here every day to write about writing and check in with you all, but I’m not putting myself on a 50k word timer anymore. I’m just writing as much as I can without messing with my eyes and all of that.

Getting back to today’s post… We are halfway through NaNoWriMo! AHHH!

Time for more reflecting. My challenge for you is to look back over what you’ve got and still make sure you are going in the right direction. Maybe you want to add in a scene or two to what you’ve already written in order to pave a better path to where you want the story to go. Maybe you want to make a few notes on what you want to change and go back to it later (don’t stop the roll you are on now!). Find three good things that you’ve noticed and three bad things, then use that information to write better going forward.

Good luck! As always, thanks for reading and don’t stop writing:)

XO, Kelli

Day 10 (And 11)

Hey Reader,

Sorry I didn’t post yesterday! Something happened last night with my neighborhood and everybody’s internet went out… But it’s back! So I’m going to give you what I wrote yesterday, okay?

I suppose, though, that you still need a challenge for day 11. How about this: Today I went to a book store and made a list of all of the books I want to read(At least the ones I got to in the 3 hours I was there). But I didn’t buy any of them, so when I got home I wasn’t tempted to read instead of write. It helped me, though, to see all of those books on shelves and get super excited about them. To see how each one was written and cared for by the writer first, before all of that editing and publishing and stuff. It made me want to write more, and it gave me a lot of ideas of how I can twist my story.

My challenge for you is to do the same thing. Don’t look at the books you own; you’ve seen them too much already to really appreciate them in this way. Go to a book store. Go to a library. Go somewhere where there are books galore and read the blurbs. Flip through them. Read the first few pages. And then if you decide it’s a book you want to read, write down the title on a list. And next to it, write the author’s full name, not just the last name or an initial. So you know that there is a person behind that book and that name who was just excited about the story you are holding as you are. More so, that they wrote it all down.

Anyway, I think this is worth doing. Give it a try. Here’s the post from yesterday: Day 10

 

Hey Reader,

Today marks the one third mark on our way through NaNoWriMo! Congrats to all of you who are on schedule or ahead. And to those who are behind, like me, get to work!

I think this is a good point in the word dump of your first draft to stop and reflect. My challenge for you is to look over what you’ve done so far and decide if you are on the right track. See where you can take the story from where you are. Make some notes of what you might plan to change about it in the future if you decide to go in another direction and don’t want to backtrack just yet. In the first book I wrote, I changed the whole premise of the story halfway through and went back to rewrite and edit the beginning a month later.

I know I’ve got a lot of reflecting to do… and writing. I’m pretty behind. I don’t even want to look at the word count until I think I’ve gotten some progress. Sometimes you’ve got to just let the words write themselves for a while before you try to measure them… Or maybe I’m just scared to see how far back I am…

Happy Veteran’s day!  Good luck, and as always: Thank you for reading and don’t stop writing!

XO, Kelli

Day 9

Hey Reader,

Sorry, I skipped day 8… American election exploding and all. Seeing as how I live in America, that was kind of a huge deal for my family, friends and me. Anyway, today I’d like to talk about that inner editor. I’ve been trying not to bring the inner editor up, like maybe it would go away, but I think it’s time.

For those of you who haven’t done NaNoWriMo before, an inner editor is an important tool–for later. For now, we have to turn it off. Pretty much, this means that when you are writing and you think, “Oh, this really sucks,” or “I give up. I hate this story”, you should just ignore it. Don’t edit before you’ve word-barfed your story onto paper. That’s when you can tear it apart and fix everything. In fact, you may find that you are a better rewriter than you are a writer.

One thing that many people don’t think about when it comes to writing is just how far that inner editor goes. You want to cut them off, but not to the point where you are writing stuff like “I hate this story omg please let this be over with. The characters do a thing and then they do another thing that’s it the end” in the middle of your book just for word count. You also don’t want to be making such major plot mistakes that it will take you twice as long to change later than if you thought about them now.

I’d say that the power of that inner editor is in the reviewing. That’s where I draw my line. When I write, I always start with what I wrote the day before and move into the story by rereading. Sometimes when I’m reviewing it like this, I might notice a grammar mistake or a good place for a description. And when I see it, I fix it. But I block the part of the inner editor that goes searching for it.

My challenge for you is to figure out how far you want your inner editor to be able to go, and where exactly you cut yourself off from being too critical in a first draft. If you haven’t done any of this yet, try writing today without thinking about it too much in technicality, but rather just get the story out.

Thanks for reading and don’t stop writing!

XO, Kelli.

Day 7

Hey Reader,

Sorry it’s late. Something occurred to me earlier today, though. I’ve really been wanting to read this book that my friend brought to school today and I took  sneak peek at the first few pages. Just by looking at the book it made me think a lot more about the style of writing I’m using for this book I’m writing and got me interested in it. I got to thinking about if the style I’m using is the best for the story (I change my style to match the story I’m writing, both for variety and to challenge myself) and I think it gave me some clarity on this new style.

At first, I still wasn’t sure. In fact, I wasn’t even sure about the story because it is only day 7 and until now I’ve been having trouble. However, I think this little detail was what was keeping me on edge. I kept thinking “It’s only day 7… not too late to try another idea…” but just looking at the writing style was enough to convince me. So for you out there thinking the same thing, try this:

Read. I’m not saying that you should set aside writing time for reading, but do grab books similar to what you’re writing and glance through them. See whether you would best tell the story through witty humor, light hearted writing, straight forward, extremely descriptive, focused on actions, focused on dialogue, flowing, choppy, etc, etc. What do the books you like, the ones that fit on the shelf right next to yours, use? Does it give you inspiration for your own story. My challenge for you is to give this a go. Maybe keep these books on hand for other things to reference, like hooks and ways to keep the reader interested, or the characterization through the story, everything.

Seriously, it helped me so much and I’m pretty sure the rest of this month won’t be as stressful and kind-of-dreadful as it has been so far. Because, let’s face it, deadlines and writer’s block don’t mix. So get out of that hole you’re digging yourself into and get to work!

Thanks for reading and don’t stop writing!

Good luck:)

XO, Kelli

Day 4

Word Count: Still somewhere in the 2,000’s

Hey Reader,

So I just did a ton of stuff I was going to have to do tomorrow, and now I won’t have to do it. In other words, tomorrow is pretty much going to be a full day of writing! I’m about so start my marathon… I usually work better at night so I may just stay up for ten more hours and sleep through the rest of Saturday or something…

I find that when I have a designated time to write each day, I get more done in that little amount of time. Usually, I write from at least 8pm to 10pm each day, and that’s helped manage time more. But when I have a whole day to work on it, I can think better and don’t feel as pressured to spit out a ridiculous word count. I already know that I’m still super behind…

The one week I didn’t have much time to write was when NaNoWriMo started and I didn’t plan enough…

Don’t worry. Don’t worry. I’ll push through. I seriously love this idea now that I’ve changed the perspectives a little bit and a few of the plot points, so as soon as I get into it tomorrow, I’ll be getting ahead.

So here’s one thing I’m going to try tomorrow. I’m going to shoot for ten thousand. I got this idea from a youtuber who did “10k Tuesdays” during NaNoWriMo (I can’t remember her name… it was like katastic or something like that… sorry). Anyway, I liked the idea as a way to really push myself into the story when I am still hesitant about some parts or am blocked. I know tomorrow is a Saturday, but it’s the same concept.

So I’m gonna get to work… I’ve got a lot of that to do. I’ve also thought about maybe posting some excerpts of stuff I really like on here as a way to keep me going and get advice. It also gives you all a sneak peak into what is the work-in-progress of my next novel!

Finally, my challenge for you is to pick a day or two this month that you will have off and reserve that time for writing. The whole day. If you have other responsibilities on those days, then get them done beforehand. If it’s non-negotiable, like work or school, then just choose a different day. Anyway, find the time to write for a long period of time, set a word count goal for that one day, and prepare for it. I’ve been building up to this marathon I’m about to write, and I think it’s really going to help like it did last year. When that time comes that you’ve set aside, maybe it will work the same for you and you won’t feel all of that pressure that comes with NaNoWriMo. Maybe you might want to do it again.

I think that the pressure one of the best and worst things for my writing, to be honest. NaNoWriMo forces me to get my words onto paper, to get the story out even if it sucks, but at the same time it makes me really reluctant to write sometimes. Like I’m scared to get to certain parts of the novel where I don’t know exactly what happens yet and so I just… avoid writing. Which is really stupid and ultimately self destructive because I get behind, like I am now.

But I guess this is my process…? Procrastinate and then let either sudden inspiration or a deadline fuel my writing…? At least by the end of the month I know I’ll have met this deadline and will have a book to edit. That’s great, right?

I think I’m procrastinating just because I’ve been waiting to write this story for at least three years and I really don’t want to mess it up.

Here’s another thing, and listen up because this is very important: If you are like me and are afraid of messing up your idea and making it go to waste, just forget about that. Mess it up. It’s always going to be perfect and exciting when it’s an untouched notion in your mind, but when you add in all of the details and bring it to life, it’s an experience that you couldn’t even imagine. Odds are, you’ll be happy with this as a starting point, even if it strays from your original idea. Sometimes it gets even better than you planned.

… I really should be taking my own advice here.

Good luck!

Thanks for reading and don’t stop writing!

XO, Kelli.

Day 3

Word count: somewhere in the 2,000’s

Hey Reader:)

Sorry, this is going to be a quick post, but I’m slammed with school work today. Just to update: I’ve gotten a better handle on how I’m going to be writing the rest of my novel after all of the planning yesterday and am starting to put this into action. Tomorrow I’m going to have a writing marathon to make up for the lack of progress I’ve been making this week.

Why did NaNoWriMo have to start on a Tuesday?

Anyway, I’m hoping to get a little over ten thousand by the end of my writing marathon, and I have a few other marathons planned throughout the month. I was originally planning to shoot for 100k words like I did last year, but I think that’s too much pressure to try and put on this one idea and on myself, so I’m going to go for 50k and then see what happens from there.

So here’s something I’ve been doing with my characters now that I’m getting into their minds more: I’ve been trying to make them a little less boring, and a little more unique. This is important to one of the major themes of my story, so it helps with that as well as realism. My challenge for you is to try and do the same. Here are some ideas:

  • Give different characters different appearances. Of course, there may be resemblances in families, but identifiers in appearance are key to the reader’s understanding of each character through another’s eyes.
  • The characters will all have different ways of speaking, even if they are talking in the same language. For example, that whole “like” repetition that is associated with teenagers or different age groups/cultural backgrounds using different vocabulary/slang. Think about their dialects and not only what words they use, but how they use them.
  • Each character should have a different personality. You can’t always get perfectly into the heads of each character this way, but it’s worth it to make the story more realistic. Think about it–In reality, how many times do you actually meet two people who have almost identical personalities? This includes behaviors, values, beliefs, backgrounds, temperaments, etc.
  • When they experience different emotions, each character will have different ways of dealing with them. One character might avoid eye contact when their emotions are out in the open because of their background. One might pick at their fingernails when they are nervous. One may lash out and say things they don’t mean when they are stressed out.
  • Finally, I’d recommend looking into this site because it has loads of different ego/personality archetypes that you may pull from to better understand certain characters. These archetypes were actually studied by a psychologist I learned about last year in my psych class, but when applied to literature make characters more vibrant and intense.

As always, good luck! Thanks for reading and don’t stop writing!

(Also, check back this weekend… I’m considering blogging every day this month instead of just weekdays)

XO, Kelli.

Day 2

Word Count: 1,185

Hey Reader,

Yesterday was a bad writing day. It’s the same thing that happened last year, and I’m beginning to wonder if this is going to be a key thing in my NaNoWriMo process. Whether or not it’s going to become a regular thing, it’s helped me both times.

So here’s what happened: the stress of really permanently establishing the writing style, perspective, structure, etc of the book made me freak out. I was thinking about how much I hated the story and how this wasn’t going to work out because I didn’t plan enough, and maybe some of you have experienced this, too. The same thing happened last year when I didn’t know how to rewrite and start a new version of a story I’d already started a year before and scrapped. In fact, Holding My Breath is completely different now that it was when I first got the idea just because of this.

(I’m pretty sure I made an entire blog about it, too)

Then, this morning when I woke up, I realized everything very clearly. I didn’t hate the story that I was telling. I wasn’t stuck. I was just telling it in the wrong way. Instead of spending the rest of this month trying to write this book the way I struggled with it yesterday, I’m starting over the way I think it should be told.

Here’s what I’m planning to do:

Today, I won’t write. Instead, I’m going to fix my outline, fix some plot points that didn’t feel right, and edit what I wrote yesterday a little to fit this new version of the book.

Yesterday I tried to write the story in third-person. HUGE MISTAKE. I’ve written in third-person for Deception and Looking For Lily and this was good for those stories. However, this one is emotional, or at least I think it will be, and for me to actually get into the minds of these characters, I’m switching to the first-person perspective.

I really like the opening to my book so far, though. In fact, I’m really excited about it! This is good for me since it’s going to get me to keep going with the idea and not give up on it. It’s the parts that I wrote after this first scene that I don’t like. For me, it’s way too impersonal and fake and I obviously have no idea what I’m talking about in it… Yeah, so I’ve deleted a lot of it. Now I only have a little over 1,000 words, but I’m way happier with how this is going to go.

My challenge for you is to take a long look at what you’ve written so far. Now that you, like me, have gotten a taste of how this book is going to go, what do you like about it? What do you really not like? Is there something you can change going forward (like character perspective, a huge plot point, the structure) that would help you to write a better story? Is there a change that will make you get into the story better? Something to keep you from having to rewrite it later? Write what you like about it, but don’t force yourself to write in a way that doesn’t make you happy, that makes you dread writing every day.

I encourage you to take today to plan, not write. So what if you get behind on your word count? Trust me and everyone I’ve talked to about this issue when I say there will be days where you get into it and double the amount that you needed to write for that day. You’ll make it up. It’s only day two–don’t start worrying about your word count just yet!

For me, this little freaking-out-period is beneficial because it helped me go into NaNoWriMo with a better mindset, knowing exactly what changes I need to make to the story in order to enjoy writing it, rather than forcing myself to write.

Remember, too, that this whole month is just about getting the words onto paper, however awful they may be. You can always edit later.

And don’t think about what other people will be reading when you write because odds are, you’ll change it along the way. Nobody has to read it until you are ready to share. Nobody has to read it at all, either, if you are just writing this for you! Right now, write for yourself.

Good luck! Thanks for reading and don’t stop writing!

XO, Kelli

Day 1

Word Count: 0

Hey Reader,

OMG. NANOWRIMO IS HERE. AHHHHH!!!!!

Okay, sorry. I had to get my excitement out before I could start this post. I’m so prepared for this… maybe not as prepared as last year, considering I’m starting from scratch, but I’ve still done my fair share of planning. Last year I rewrote a story I already had started. In fact, I ended up using some of the older drafts in it later on. I was writing for characters I already knew and about places I was already familiar with… It was easy.

I’m sorta kinda freaking out because this year, all I’ve got is a blank slate. Well, and all of those notes and my outline. I haven’t written for these characters, and most of them I haven’t even figured out their names. Actually, I only know one. I feel like I should already know that…  I mean, I’m about to start writing about them.

Last year I felt like the best parts of the story were the ones I came up with on the spot, so I didn’t try to overprepare this year. I’ve been wondering all day what my first words are going to be…

Here are a few ideas for all of you who are also struggling with the first words:

  1. Forget them. You can figure it out later. Write what you know about the story first and then fill in the blanks. You’ve got all month to get that straightened out.
  2. Write the first thing that comes to your head, and then go from there. For all I know, my book might start with, “I’ve never liked potatoes…”
  3. Write something that encompasses the entire theme of your story. If you were writing a book about denial and loss, you might start with, “Mandy didn’t lose her phone. She just… didn’t know exactly where it was at the moment.”
  4. Start your story with dialogue. I think this is the easiest for me because the dialogue is the easiest for me to write. At least in my eyes, it tends to be the best thing about my stories.
  5. Start it off by setting the scene. Maybe that’s your best writing skill, describing what’s happening. This is especially effective if your story starts off with action. It gets the reader sucked in immediately. For me, I’m kind of scared to try that right now after not writing for a while…
  6. If you don’t already know what you’re writing, then think about your concept in terms of your favorite movies or books. Let’s say you want to write about a boy who’s dream is to play football as a career. Now think about your favorite book/movie opening. Does it start with a description? Then try describing the football field just as the sun is going down. Does is start with action? Then start off the story when there are eight seconds left in the game and tensions are high. Don’t copy your favorites, but don’t be afraid to pull from them.

I’d recommend writing a few different openings and then choosing the best one at the end of the month. In fact, spend this whole first day on your beginning. Don’t worry about your word count just yet; it’s only day one. Even if you only get 300 words in today, at least you’ll have a good foundation to build on. The ball will start rolling on its own from there.

 

Thank you for reading and don’t stop writing!

XO, Kelli

 

New Book

Hey Reader,

About two weeks ago I said that I would announce my next book today. I also said I’d let you know about whether Holding My Breath will have a sequel.

So here it is:

I’m not writing a sequel for Holding My Breath. Originally, Under the Surface was going to be the title of HMB book 2, and it was going to be awesome. I know, I know. You all really wanted to read it. And I really wanted to write it. But let’s think about if for a second. If I were writing the sequel, I had things planned out. I would be able to make it live up to book one. I knew how I would continue it. I knew how it would end and lead into book 3.

But Holding My Breath was always meant to be a stand-alone, and I’m going to leave it be. I feel like if I write another book (And if I did I would have to make it into a trilogy because of how #2 was going to end), then I would just be trying to squeeze more product out of a good idea.

So there won’t be a sequel. At least not right now. I’m not saying that it’s over, that I’ll never write the sequel. I’m just saying that it won’t be this year.

Okay. On to better news: I’m writing another stand-alone for NaNoWriMo 2016. It’s called Flying Under the Radar. Many of you have already heard this title because I was going to write it for NaNoWriMo back in 2014, but didn’t end up doing it for various reasons. But recently, I had a breakthrough in the story and now I’m kind of obsessed.

It’s going to be spectacular. At least, I think it will  be, but I know it willfur-cover-take-2 definitely be as great to write as HMB was (Maybe even better).

And this time, instead of aiming my writing towards commercial fiction, I’m going to be aiming towards literary fiction. I’m still deciding that, though, since the story could go either way.

I’ll let you all know a little more about it during my daily blogs in November, but I just
wanted you all to get some updates on what’s going on. Anyway, to the right is the cover from 2014 that was created for Flying Under the Radar the first time around, but the story is shifting a little bit and so will the cover. It might change a little, or it might change completely, but here’s the old one anyway.

More to come soon:)

Thanks for reading and don’t stop writing!

Xo, Kelli.